Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Dewsall Court, An Enchanting Hideaway For Your Perfect Event

Sometimes you find a little secret hideaway you want to keep all to yourself. Dewsall Court is one of those places.

Set in the beautiful Herefordshire countryside, Dewsall Court is a venue for events, yet it is so much more than that. 

This historic home was built in 1644 by Richard Pearl and was in his family for 100 years until he went bankrupt. It was then owned by Guys Hospital for 300 years. In the 1960s it fell into a state of disrepair and after a number of owners it came to be bought by the Robinson family who completely renovated it.


It was a happy family home where the children grew up until Joe, the father, sadly passed away, and the family decided to move out in 2009. Since then it has been an exclusive use venue for parties, weddings and events.


When I was invited to a bloggers lunch recently at Dewsall Court I was really looking forward to it after reading about the venue on their website and I also knew my lovely friends Laura at Side Street Style and Kerry at All About A Mini Norris would be attending. 



Dewsall Court is a grand venue, but I immediately felt at home. Maybe it was the warm chocolate chip cookies that greeted me, the homely kitchen with Aga or the open-armed welcome from Jane and Samantha, the mother and daughter that own and run the venue.


Who can resist warm homemade chocolate chip cookies?




Large conservatory and dining room

As we were showed around Samantha spoke about this unique place. A large grand dining room, smaller cosier dining area, large relaxing lounge, and country kitchen were some of the rooms downstairs, upstairs a number of super smart but traditionally styled bedrooms with antique roll-top baths, walk-in showers, and amazing views of the Black Mountains. Stand out rooms included the granary suite with heavy beamed ceilings, king sized bed and quirky painted mural bathroom. 


Hand painted chinoiserie wallpaper 


 Beautiful paintings adorn the walls


Enjoy a game of billiards


One of the traditionally styled and impeccably smart bedrooms

Watch out for the television, tucked away in the chest, and ready for you at the touch of a button 

Features in the bedrooms include canopy beds


Another beautifully styled room


Bathrooms include antique reclaimed baths 


I could languish in this bath all day

As you can see the quality of the furniture and furnishings is outstanding, and combined with the space, (it can sleep up to 27), the vast grounds and the English country charm means that Dewsall Court is a favourite with wedding couples, as well as celebs wanting a space for special occasions


Dinner parties with celebratory chefs are also popular and recent chefs include Masterchef winner Ping Coombs and two Michelin star chef Stephen Terry. Guests can visit just for the meal or stay overnight. 

Myself and the other bloggers, including Mr W, were then treated to an amazing meal with a 'Fire and Ice' theme which they serve at their Christmas events. Mr W decided to have the vegetarian option and I had the normal menu.

A selection of our dishes are below.

Pea Arancini



Ewyas Harold Lamb, Blackened New Potatoes, Confit Onions, Kale Compote
Hot Chocolate and Sloe Gin Puddings - photo courtesy of Side Street Style 

Menu:

Borsch with Vodka, Sour Cream and Chives.
Potted Smoked Trout and Brown Shrimps, Rye Crisps, Pickled Rainbow Vegetables
Ewyas Harold Lamb, Blackened New Potatoes, Confit Onions, Kale Compote
Hot Chocolate and Sloe Gin Puddings

Vegetarian Menu:

Borsch with Vodka, Sour Cream and Chives.
Pea Arancini
Crispy Halloumi, mint, molasses, pomegranate, smoky creamed corn, grilled aubergine.
Hot Chocolate and Sloe Gin Puddings

The food as you can see above was beautifully presented and tasted amazing. Wherever possible the chef uses local food in season and you could really tell the freshness in the produce. The lamb, for example was from Ewyas Harold, a little village nine miles up the road.

Many of the events they hold are held in the Wainhouse barn below. For an event, this space is decorated beautifully, has it's own bar and dancefloor too. At the Fire and Ice event, the driveway is lined with torches leading the way to the Wainhouse which is basking in the glow of candlelight and warming fire pits. After cocktails and canapes, the menu is served and then dancing til late. You can see why these events sell out quick!


To me, Dewsall Court is a place to share with family and your favourite friends. It's a place for fun and celebration, it's a place for romance and seclusiveness and it's a place for relaxing with that good book by the open fire. The charm of the place is that it is big enough to hold a large gathering spending time with your nearest and dearest but also it's a place to chill in a deep roll top bath or wander the grounds, enjoying nature. 

Here is a video Mr W has made to show the beauty of Dewsall Court. 


Dewsall Court is an excellent venue for that special event and if you booked this beautiful historic home, or attended one of their special dinners, I have a feeling you would not be disappointed.

Dewsall Court
Callow
Hereford
United Kingdom
HR2 8DA

Telephone : +44 (0) 1432 355058
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Friday, 23 December 2016

Fotor.com Review - Photo Editing Software

It's so easy in this day and age to take photos, compact cameras are getting smaller and easy to fit in your pocket and of course, if you own a smartphone, most of us have a camera with us at all times. 

There doesn't have to be a lot of skill involved in taking photos anymore, which has made photo taking accessible to all, and that's a good thing, however sometimes we need a little help to make our photos better. Cropping a photo, adjusting the contrast, making the colours richer, making the photos sharper -all this can be done with Fotor.




Fotor is a free photo editor which enables you to edit a photo simply without being an expert. Here are some of my favourite features, and ways on how to improve your blog's pics, or indeed any of your pics with Fotor.

Top Three Favourite Features 

One Tap

One tap enhance is a great feature. You upload your photo and simply tap. Photos come out adjusted for brightness, colour and just look so much better. You can then compare the original with the adjusted photo and decide to save or not.


Original
Tap

Photo Collages

These can be created quickly and simply. It's as easy as opening the photos in the collage editor, dragging and dropping into the cells, and if you wish, modifying the background with borders, effects and stickers. It's straight forward to add text as well and before you know you have a professional looking photo collage. Then just save your work in the appropriate format and quality. Perfect.


Colour Splash

Colour Splash can help make your photos dramatic or draw attention to a subject or object. This can really give a WOW effect or a subtle difference. As you can see below, using this effect on the image makes a real difference. I'm not an expert and it's not perfect but in less than five minutes I changed the image to black and white with the Colour Splash option, then used a brush to bring the original colour back to the vase and flower.


 Before


After

The Fotor blog has some great ideas and inspiration too such as articles on the Making Of Perfect Travel Photos or How To Create A Facebook Cover For Christmas.

No downloads are needed as it's all done online or through the Fotor app for Android or iPhone. Many options are free but you can upgrade for even more choice.

With social media templates for Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube to name just three and classic templates for posters and cards, your design needs are made simpler with Fotor.

If you are looking for an easy to use photo editing package you really can't go wrong.

What do you think of the features? Are you a wiz at taking photos and editing?

* PR collaboration
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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Hotel Ambra Cortina - Living La Dolce Vita



From the moment I set my eyes on the beauty of Cortina, in the Italian alps, it captured my heart.


Cortina d'Ampezzo, or Cortina as it's often called, is one of Italy's most charming ski resorts, but there is more to do here other than ski. Defined by a history of visiting Hollywood stars of a bygone era, think Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn, and made famous by the 1956 Winter Olympics the resort had a style, chicness and class all of its own. A UNESCO world heritage site this area is perfect for hiking in the summer and exploring the beautiful Dolomite mountains, cute little restaurants, and exclusive fashion stores. 


Our base for three days was the fashion boutique Hotel Ambra Cortina. 

Hotel Ambra Cortina is situated perfectly just behind the main square in Cortina. From the outside, the hotel looks like an impeccable Austrian style building, with hard-carved wooden balconies, window boxes and wooden shutters and we were excited to see inside. 


We were greeted warmly by Elisabetta, the owner of Hotel Ambra Cortina. Elizabetta is a third generation hotelier with experience of owning hotels all her life. Born in the Veneto area, ten years ago she took over the hotel. Within the last six months, the hotel has had a complete makeover with the emphasis on a boutique ambience, every room being decorated in a unique way, with the best furnishings, and little luxuries and themed around fashion, cinema, theatre and nature. 





There is a small lounge with stylish works of art and a small bar area near reception, where the professional and welcoming staff will make you the latest cocktail or a warming hot chocolate or cappuccino.

We were shown to our room, which was beautifully presented with a canopy bed and themed around nature in colours of greens and golds. The room had an ensuite marble shower and toilet as well as two seating areas and windows looking out onto the town and the beautiful mountains.








The shower had two shower heads, and as Elisabetta had explained earlier this was for 'romance'.

We had a lovely balcony which had our own Christmas tree, which was a beautiful touch, and an area with a table and chairs on which you can sit and enjoy the scenery.

Looking through this window we could see the beautiful Dolomites (see below)

We were greeted with a bottle of sparkling wine and a fruit basket in our room, and these sort of touches make you realise you are in a luxury hotel, as well as the glamorous surroundings of course!


As I was invited to review the hotel with my husband, Elisabetta invited us out that night to a lovely little restaurant called Dok which was almost next door. As we chatted over dinner she spoke to us about the hotel, which she described as a fashion boutique hotel. Elisabetta's vision is to sell a dream, somewhere you can visit that is special, romantic, artistic, fashionable, unique. You could see she has a real passion for her work, and a love for her hotel. Being an hotelier is in her soul.




That night we slept well, being woken up by the chimes of the local church the next morning. To look through the windows and see the beauty of Cortina was the perfect start to our day.



“I believe, every day, you should have at least one exquisite moment. “ Audrey Hepburn





Breakfast was served in a traditionally styled Tirolean breakfast room. The breakfast was ample with a choice of pastries, fresh fruit, yoghurts, cured meats cheeses and cereals with egg dishes made to order. One day we even had chocolate cake, so if you wanted to indulge in that for breakfast then why not, you are on holiday after all?  

After breakfast, Elisabetta showed us around the hotel. The 24 individually styled rooms are all subtly themed, think amazing furnishings, fresco paintings, and hand wood carvings. The 5 luxury roof rooms are designed with antiques and furnishings by local artisans. The 11 superior rooms are classified as 'emotion' and 'relax' rooms with canopy beds, with a double shower or double airpool bath and balcony. The 8 classic rooms are divided into themes of 'cinema'. 'fashion', 'nature' and 'theatre' . I will let the photos do the talking here as I cannot simply describe how gorgeous each room was.


The Sissi room, a super luxurious and fashionable room in a traditional style


 The Hockey room has a mezzanine level, perfect if you are sharing with your family or friends


Many rooms have an airpool bath big enough for two

'Cinema' and 'theatre' rooms are full of drama

Amazing tiles in this bathroom

A room that is in a more classic style and a favourite of men


The hotel is full of chic touches like this photo of Clark Gable in one of the 'cinema' rooms

This 'fashion' room is so unique, modern and slightly quirky

A sexy touch!

An interesting feature in some of the rooms is the window in the bath and shower area, designed for couples to add some spice to their love life. However, you can adjust the blind if you don't want everything on show.

With every room, you get the use of bathrobe and slippers, luxury toiletries and a vanity set, minibar, high-speed wi-fi and a personal safe. Individual rooms have marbled bathrooms, classic wooden flooring, stone cladding, and intricate wood panelling. Every room is different in its own way, super stylish, incredibly chic.


Mr W enjoying the view after a cable car trip up the mountains

Hotel Ambra Cortina is a perfect hotel for a romantic stay with your loved one, and Cortina is a place where you can relax and enjoy the gorgeous fresh air and alpine scenery. To read and see more of this beautiful alpine region check out our article A Weekend In Cortina D'Ampezzo, on our dedicated travel blog Fly Drive Explore.



To give you a better taste of the hotel here is a video Mr W made to show you the stylish rooms.



As Audrey Hepburn said “I believe, every day, you should have at least one exquisite moment. “ If you are staying at Hotel Ambra Cortina all your exquisite moments will come at once. 


Highly recommended.

Hotel Ambra Cortina
Via XXIX Maggio,
28 - 32043
Cortina d'Ampezzo
Italy

+39 0436 867344
http://www.hotelambracortina.it/eng/

* we were given complimentary accommodation but all words and opinions are my own
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